The Fight Ahead: Activists Look Past Election to TPP Showdown 

Photo by SumOfUs | CC BY 2.0

Photo by SumOfUs | CC BY 2.0

Though this year’s toxic presidential contest still hangs in the balance, progressive activists are already gearing up for another battle this  month  — defeating the TPP.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, comprising the U.S. and eleven other countries collectively making up 40 percent of the world economy, represents a tremendous expansion of corporate power that experts warn would greatly erode nation-state sovereignty, particularly through it’s controversial investor state dispute settlement resolution.

The agreement is the brainchild of hundreds of trade representatives and corporate lawyers, crafted in secret over several years. It would lower safeguards on aspects ranging from food quality to the environment to medicine access in one of the most comprehensive trade deals in history.

Yet precisely because the TPP covers so many issues, a diverse array of groups ranging from labor unions to environmentalists to Black Lives Matter have coalesced to squash it when it’s expected to come up for ratification in next week’s lame duck session — which some groups say will happen no matter who wins the presidency on Tuesday.

Legislators, particularly those on their way out from office, are less responsive to constituents during lame duck period, making it easier for  President Obama and lobbyist to press their case.

With this in mind, activists around the country are readying for a final push of rallies and actions to prevent its passage, the largest of which is set for Thursday, Nov. 17, in Washington D.C.

It’s being organized by scores of groups, including Food and Water Watch, the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, and Our Revolution, a successor to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

There will also be simultaneous actions across the country outside the district offices of lawmakers, as well as in other signatory countries, including Mexico, Chile, and Canada.

“Once legislation is introduced, it’s an uphill battle to stop. it,” said Margaret Flowers, an organizer with Flush the TPP, a campaign by the group Popular Resistance.”We saw during the fast track that Obama administration and the trade reps were able to put the squeeze on members of Congress. We have the potential to defeat it, but its going to require people get engaged.”

At the moment, the consensus is that the agreement does not have the votes to pass. Obama repeated as recently as last week that he will continue to push for passage before his time in office is up, but even the Wall Street Journal is calling his effort a “long-shot bid.”

The TPP’s unpopularity has grown steadily throughout the election cycle.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders surrogates were foiled in an attempt to reject the TPP in the party platform, though at the convention Sanders delegates displayed their discontent with chants of “No TPP” and placards to boot, visibly flustering the carefully-crafted pageantry of speakers.

Trump’s anti-TPP stance found a receptive audience in Republican voters worried it will further gut manufacturing jobs and wages, a message that seems to have rippled up to more establishment figures like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has publicly expressed skepticism about its chances this year.

recent poll found that a majority of registered voters across parties are against it.

“People are starting to see this as an expansion of cooperate power, but not so much about trade,” says Melinda St Louis, of the Global Trade Watch, another group in the anti-TPP coalition.

The coalition opposing the TPP came out of the People’s Summit in Chicago in June, when it became clear Hilary Clinton had won (fairly or not) the democratic primary, and progressive groups were debating how to use momentum from the Bernie Sanders campaign, says Jessica Fujan, midwest director of Food and Water Watch.

The coalition has managed to get a dozen or so members of congress to change their vote to go against the deal, she says. Representative Danny Heck, a democratic congressman in Washington State who announced his opposition a few weeks ago, is one such recent example.

Many legislators are still up for grabs. In Illinois, Food and Water Watch is targeting congressmen Rob Quigly, Rob Dold and Bobby Rush, among others, Fujia explained at a volunteer meeting on Saturday in Chicago. The group spent the afternoon preparing signs for a demonstration outside Quigly’s office to coincide with the march in the country’s capital next week.

Politico reported on Friday that Our Revoltuion, is honing in on five key legislators: Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Derek Kilmer (Wash.), and Pennsylvania state Rep. Dwight Evans, the front-runner in the state’s 2nd Congressional District race.

Fujia and others admit it will be close. But if the TPP is defeated now, they say it’s unlikely to come up when congress reconvenes in January.

“Whoever wins the election, it’s not going to be something they can quickly flip-lip on and have any credibility,” St. Louis says.”It gives us space to talk about different model for any trade agreements we have…This is too much of a political hot potato.”

More articles by:

Oliver “Oscar” Ortega is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin. Back in his mainstream media days, his work appeared in the Boston Globe and other regional newspapers. He can be reached at: oortega.news@gmail.com

March 22, 2018
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks